The Pittsburgh Steelers, and their global fan base, consider their 2022 NFL Draft class to be a success for many reasons. Outside of the selection of Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall selection, the pick of George Pickens in Round 2 was accepted by fans and critics alike.
Pickens isn’t your typical wide receiver. His size, speed, catching radius and high-pointing abilities have many salivating over what he could bring to the team’s near bare wide receiver cupboard.
Outside of Pickens’ obvious physical traits and abilities, the former Georgia Bulldog provides an aggressiveness, and tenacity, which has been lacking among the Steelers’ wide receiving corps for some time now. In fact, many would conclude the last time the Steelers had a receiver who willingly blocked and mixed it up with defenders was Hines Ward. If you are looking for someone more recent, maybe JuJu Smith-Schuster fits that bill. There is a chance Pickens is the next receiver to garner some of that attention.
When speaking with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com Pickens talked about the Steelers being a physical team, and how that meshes will with his overall style of play.
“They’re real physical. That’s really the biggest thing. Aggressiveness,” said Pickens. “That’s one of the biggest models of their game. That is really one of the bigger things in my game. I’m always physical. And I’m always finesse. You put those two together, you create a Steelers mentality like the receivers they already have now.”
Being more specific, Pickens said he isn’t just willing to block, but it’s something he looks forward to, labeling it a “thrill”.
“To be honest with you it’s a thrill,” Pickens said. “When you’re not catching the ball and you are out there, you don’t have a route, it’s a running play. The guy in front of you is the guy you’re blocking. Blocking really ups it more to where you can make it fun and more entertaining. Kind of push them to the ground, go get the safety and move around the field faster.”
For those who don’t know what kind of physicality Pickens brings to an offense, just watch this video compilation below of his time in Georgia.
The Pittsburgh Steelers officially have the best WR in the AFC North. pic.twitter.com/Wjn5Slr8Zi— george pickens enjoyer (@PickensWRLD) April 30, 2022
What, or who, does Pickens credit for his overall aggressive mindset? How about the ridiculously competitive SEC.
“The competitive level at Georgia and in the SEC is so high,” Pickens recalled. “Half of the guys that were on the team last year were all drafted. I had 14 of my teammates just drafted. Practice every day was elite. Being in the SEC gets you the most prepared for this competition.”
With the excitement of being drafted on Day 2 by the Steelers, Pickens is ready to get to work. At this point, having him take his time and figure out the professional game might be the most challenging aspect of his game.
“After the emotions of draft day get going, you wish you could just play right now. But reality, I have to wait, figure out the team, the staff. Just take my time.”
Pickens now enters a team in desperate need of a player who can stretch the field. Can he fill that role in 2022? It all starts on Friday when rookie minicamp gets underway.
“Now, let’s get started.” Pickens said.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.